Boeing has crossed a new key step toward the launch of the successor to the 777, giving the green light to the start of commercial negotiations. After more than 2 years of preparations, the Board of Directors of Boeing allowed its sales teams to send to potential customers proposals for price & delivery dates of the 777X. This is the last step before the final launch of the program in Le Bourget Airshow in June, with the signature of first orders by Emirates, which is already the world's largest customer for the Boeing 777 and has been working with Boeing on finalising the 777X specs.
So far, the 777 had indeed no equivalent: the A380 is much larger, and the significantly smaller A330 with a shorter range. But with the imminent arrival of the A350-1000, expected for 2017, the domination of the 777 has started to crack. British Airways, one of the best historical customers of the 777, has signed a commitment to purchase 18 A350-1000. Japan Airlines, another exclusive client of the 777, also indicated that he could order the A350-1000 in Le Bourget. And Air France could confirm the order for 25 A350, which could essentially be 1000 version.
Anxious to limit the risks and its investment, after the effort made for the 787, Boeing has opted for an evolution of the 777 and not an entirely new aircraft.
777 vs. A350. When it comes to comparing the new 777X with the A350-1000, there are a few key differences to keep in mind.
The 777X will have a metal fuselage with carbon-fiber wings, which, according to Boeing, will increase performance but maintain reliability. The A350-1000, on the other hand, has the fuselage and the wing both manufactured in carbon fiber. The 777X will be equipped with new composite-wings, which would be the largest ever manufactured by Boeing.
The 777X will have a unique engine supplier; GE. The same sole manufacturer than current 777-300ER. So Rolls-Royce that is also available for the 787, will focus their efforts on the A350 family. The development of the new GE9X power plant will be the bottle neck for the EIS of the new 777X by the end-2019. And a sole source is always a risk.
Based on the article “Boeing 777X contre Airbus A350 : le nouveau match des poids-lourds du ciel” published in Les Echos.